Strategy Implementation Tactics as Response to Organizational, Strategic, and Environmental Imperatives**

By Lehner, Johannes | Management Revue, October 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Strategy Implementation Tactics as Response to Organizational, Strategic, and Environmental Imperatives**


Lehner, Johannes, Management Revue


Based on previous literature in the fields of strategy implementation and leadership research tactics for strategy implementation are identified. Three categories proved empirically valid in this study: autocratic tactics, participative tactics and tactics which rely on the given culture of the organization. The paper is based on the assumption that implementation in general is dependent on environmental, strategic and organizational variables. In this sense implementation tactics can be interpreted as genuine organizational behaviour. Based on a discussion of associations of implementation tactics with these variables it is hypothesized that the perception of environmental threats will lead to more autocratic tactics, whereas the existence of a formulated strategy will rather lead to more participative tactics. No such relationships are predicted for cultural tactics. A questionnaire-based measure of implementation tactics is tested in a sample of 136 Upper-Austrian firms by referring to implementation projects or strategy related issues. For a sub-sample (n=60) a moderated regression analysis on implementation tactics with measures of organizational structure, the environment, the strategy, and the interaction between environment and strategy as independent variables was performed. It shows that the use of autocratic tactics is significantly explained by environmental variables whereas participative tactics are significantly explained by the existence of a formulated strategy within the organization. For Culture as an implementation tactic only the interaction between environmental and strategic variables was a significant predictor. Implications for future theory building and empirical research into organizational behaviour in the context of strategy formulation and strategy implementation are discussed.

Key words: Strategy Implementation; Implementation Tactics, Organizational Centralization, Uncertainty, Equivocality

Many studies in the long tradition of organizational behaviour research could be qualified as general behavioural research, as long as they do not refer to idiosyncratic conditions within the organization. Rather then presenting new methodologies of research the aim of this paper is to seek new directions by explicitly linking behavioural inquiry to related fields in organizational research, in particular to organizational theory and to strategic management. This link is represented here through tactics of strategy implementation as behavioural patterns, which are dependent on environmental, organizational, and strategic conditions.

There is still little research on strategy implementation, compared to the bulk of literature on the formulation and decision parts of the strategic process. Strategy implementation involves multiple levels of analysis which hinders the development of closed frameworks and of coherent streams of research. Consequently, researchers have taken a large diversity of perspectives on implementation (Noble, 1999). It has mainly been researched in regard to the fit between strategy and structure (e.g. Galbraith/Kazanjian 1986; Hrebaniak/Joyce 1984), building on the seminal work of Chandler (1962). This has been supplemented through studies of environmental and organizational contingencies for strategies (Damanpour 1996). A different research stream addresses implementation as a variant of leadership processes on a conceptual level (Bourgeois/Brodwin 1984) or empirically (e.g. Nutt 1986). The latter type of studies lacks explicit references to strategy content, with the exception of an empirical study using multiple case studies by Waldersee and Sheather (1996). Some studies link strategy type (Hambrick/Mason 1984; Miller/Toulouse 1986; Miller/Kets de Vries/ Toulouse 1982; Szilagy/Schweiger 1984) or implementation (Gupta/Govindarajan 1984; Govindarajan 1989; Nutt 1995) to managerial characteristics. However, there is a growing literature on the resource-based view (Wernerfelt 1989; Barney 1991) or competence-based view (German/Thomas 1997) of the firm, emphasizing the importance of organizational processes and capabilities for sustained competitive advantage. …

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